Amazon is a retail giant, a technology leader, and one of the world's top brands. But there's something missing at every single meeting in the company.
No, it's not an agenda.
But it does have something to do the overall company's agenda.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is famously obsessed with customers. He's known for saying, "Start with the customer and work backward," and that's the reason that every project or product at Amazon starts with a press release that features sample customer quotes. It's something that has stood the 20-year-old "startup" in good stead.
"Obsessing over customer experience is the only long-term defensible competitive advantage," Bezos has said.
That can be challenging to remember, however.
So Amazon makes it impossible to forget.
"One problem is that the customer isn't really there at every meeting," an Amazon insider told me recently. "So what we like to do at every meeting is we reserve a seat for the customer."
It sounds cheesy, and it probably feels that way sometimes for insiders.
But it is a way of visually compelling every meeting participant and every discussion to reference Amazon's customers. And it'd be hard to argue that the company's single-minded obsession with customers hasn't stood it in good stead.